Archive | Sales Funnel

AIDA, Next Step, Qualify, Close, Deliver etc.

Content Marketing and the Sales Funnel

Content marketing seems to be all the rage at the moment. Content helps people and businesses to be found through search engines.  Blogs and social media are seen as great ways to put out content in order to be found and so people can start to know, like and trust you. Google rewards fresh content with higher scores encouraging businesses to generate even more content.  Businesses try to get high in the search rankings so they generate content specific to certain keywords. But then so do their competitors.

Content is King

There is also a prevalent saying that ‘Content is King’. The ability to create compelling content is very important, for that content to resonate with the reader, and to achieve it’s objective really matters. In this context it might be to inform, to entertain, to inspire, to persuade or similar goals. And content isn’t just about text, it could be pictures, audio, video, SMS, and other formats too. Multi-media content has become more practical, with the increase in electronic channels.

Distribution is Emporer

In an interview with international publisher Larry Genkin, written as a blog post here, he identified that without a means to get content into the hands of readers it was of very little value. As a publisher he clearly saw circulation of his publications as a vital bridge between content authors and readers. And in a marketing and sales context that translates into the various methods of getting content into the hands of readers, so social media, website and blog, email marketing, print, and so on. The ability to establish or to use communications channels to reach the desired readerships or viewers is clearly of great importance.

The process is the Power behind the throne

However, within the Marketing and Sales area we hold that content and distribution are means to an end, which is to achieve the goals of the process. In this respect it is about right message, right time, right channel, right person. And above all, in order to move the sale forwards there should be an effective call to action and a means for the reader to respond.

Content Grid v2

Combine these elements and the marketing and sales them have a very rich and varied palate from which to craft communications to feed into the sales process and to support people at the customer facing part of the sequence where personal contact builds trust, matches offerings against needs, negotiates deals and briefs delivery, or whatever the specifics for your industry or business.

Monitor and measure

With the increase in online communication comes the ability to monitor and measure how someone interacts with the message, or more specifically, whether they read it and whether the intended action as a result. The accuracy of this enables follow-up communications to be sent, to move the prospect to the next step.

How to approach content marketing

There are several options and routes available, so here are some ideas:

Increase content distribution

  • If what you have is fit from purpose or better then, other things being equal, it’s worth getting more eye-balls looking at it.
  • If there are brochures in the store-room they are not helping the sales process, so get them into circulation.
  • Likewise, a good or great website without many visitors warrants efforts to increase visitors.

Re-purpose content

  • Re-using what you have in a different format can produce quick wins.
  • If you have white-papers then use each paragraph or section as the topic for a blog post.
  • If you have case studies lift out customer quotes to use elsewhere.
  • If you have Powerpoint presentations then record an audio track and post them onto Slideshare as a SlideCast, which you could then incorporate in a page or post on your website or blog.
  • If your website has great content but is not converting then review and improve the high traffic pages.

Make content work harder

  • Improve conversion through various techniques

Create compelling content

  • Unlock the knowledge in the heads of you, your staff and team, customers and partners

SMART Content Marketing

Contact us a Wurlwind if you would like to talk through any ideas about developing or leveraging your content

Recycle through the sales funnel

The traditional sales funnel is viewed as linear and one way.

  • This can lead to a lot of wastage as prospects and leads fall by the way-side if they don’t progress to the next stage.
  • It also misses huge opportunities to tap into the potential to leverage progression to feed back into the sales funnel.

Recent developments mean neither of these apply to the same extent as preciously.

The availability and access to information via the internet means the buyer can pick and choose the information that suits them, so the linear process that the vendor could previously control is becoming quite random. In addition, since the buyer is now more in control they may chose to move forwards and backwards through the buying process, especially if there are several people in the buying team, with different needs and responsibilities.

The good news is that by updating the sales funnel model, marketing and sales processes and by using technology as a supporting tool, there are ways that vendor organisations can redress the balance, and reclaim some of the initiative.  traditional

Sales Funnel recycling

The wastage of leads and opportunities falling by the way-side can be addressed by updating the marketing and sales activities internally. There are many ways that contacts could be recycled through the marketing and sales process that is under some control of the sales organisation, through internal systems, such as email marketing and customer relationship management. For example:

  • a prospect who is contacted by sales for an initial qualification call but is not yet ready to buy can be added back into a marketing campaign to raise their awareness.
  • a lost sale situation can be added back into a low key contact program as there may be a subsequent sales opportunity.
  • a customer who has made an initial purchase can be re-marketed to for upsell and cross-sell opportunities.

Social Business recycling

The missed opportunities is really about recognising the potential that Social Media and Social Business provides, as a very powerful means to address the latter and to harness and facilitate the leverage that is increasingly available. For example:

  • experience gained with a customer and their usage of your product or service could be fed into the lead nurture activity, posted of the FAQ, Blog, and highlighted through Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ and so on.
  • customer testimonials, especially by video, could be added to landing pages, home pages etc to increase the social proof and reduce perceived risk to a new prospect.
  • customers, prospect, contacts and even people who you don’t yet know about could ‘Like’ the content you create and publish on your website, blog etc. and highlight it to people who they know and are connected to.

Recycling strategies for marketing and sales

Identifying potential for recycling within existing marketing, sales and delivery areas and processes and developing strategies and implementing operational or tactical solutions can be extremely beneficial. They have the potential to increase the revenue per customer and their life-time value, to increase conversion at each stage in the marketing and sales process, and to reduce the cost of sale through reduction in marketing and sales spend and through increased productivity, to highlight just some of the potential return on investment areas.

How much recycling do you do at the moment?

You may already be thinking about ideas and areas where you could improve marketig and sales, but how about:

  • how effective is your re-marketing to existing customers?
  • how easy do you make it for them to endorse what you do for and with your current customers?
  • do you review lost business and use it as a learning and improvement trigger and re-marketing opportunity?

For more suggestions to help you turbo-charge your sales funnel, sign up to the tips on the right.

 

 

B2B Buying Cycle – extending AIDA to create a closed loop

Have you considered, or mapped out, the steps that your prospect go through, their B2B buying cycle?

  • Think about the steps you went through for some of your recent purchases.

The traditional marketing model has four steps; Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action, known by the acronym ‘AIDA’. For more complex purchases and in the business to business market some models have 5, 6 or 7 steps, some involving a Trial before Action. However, there are two aspects that Wurlwind puts forward as modifications to AIDA.

  1. The first is to add the Reward stage at the end, to recognise the importance to the buyer of the post-purchase experience. This is the time when support, calls to customer service, etc could occur. It is also the period when happy customers could be encouraged and be willing to provide testimonials, endorsements, referrals and so on.
  2. The second is to recognise that in some complex buying situations there are multiple action steps, one of which might be trial. This could be treated as a Loop, repeating steps in AIDA but at progressive levels. We believe this approach builds in flexibility for different buying cycles, even between different customers or people within a decision-making unit.

To give an example related to a major project:

  1. Investigation for larger projects need to be justified internally in order to get resource. This involves the AIDA sequence even when the Action is to commit say 20 man days for a feasibility study and requirements specification.
  2. The search for potential suppliers leading to selection of one vendor for a pilot project is another AIDA sequence.
  3. The pilot project progression to a full implementation could be seen as a Loop through the IDA steps.

A second example concerns the trial or Freemium versions of software:

  1. The AIDA sequence to sign up for a free trial of software may be relatively simple.
  2. However, as many vendors are finding, the buying process to move from trial to paid-for license is much more of a challenge. Clearly Awareness and Interest are already present. However the Desire may have waned as other tasks and priorities overtake the initial Desire and Action.

See if you can write down the steps that your buyers go through, and even talk this through with some of your closer customers. Along the way you will find out things like:

  • What was the compelling event or trigger that created Awareness?
  • What raised their Interest in the topic, and helped to define their need?
  • What questions came up along the way?
  • What were the emotional, personal, professional and financial pay-offs that fostered the Desire?
  • What concerns and risk came up during the process?
  • What information did they needed, for themselves, and for others?
  • What influenced their decision to make a choice and take a specific Action?

A clear understanding of the buying cycle will help to improve the sales cycle, and increase sales effectiveness.

Event driven selling as the core to your B2B sales process

Selling, and buying, can be looked at as a series of events.

An event driven selling approach helps when analysing what is taking place within the sales cycle, and also in the buying cycle.

It enables improvements to be made, in effectiveness and efficiency.

What is a selling event?

There are several things that can be termed ‘events’ in the sales journey, such as:

  • Face-to-face meeting opportunities are events – including exhibitions, network meetings, presentations, first meetings and so on.
  • Online meetings – such as webinars, conference calls, skype presentations, etc.
  • Smaller touch-points – like phone calls, email, sms, that might build relationships
  • Commercial activities such as quotations, proposals, negotiations, contract signings
  • Product or service events, such as announcement of a new product or service, or the launch of a new release
  • Vendor calendar and accounting events particularly period end points, such as month, quarter and year end
  • Buyer calendar events such as their sales peaks, renewals, financial year, budget submissions, regulations
  • Buyer process events such as ITT issue, response deadline, short-list of potential suppliers, taking up references
  • Competitor events, such as release or discontinuation of a product, arrival or departure of key staff

These are just some of examples, and there may be many more that are specific to your company and your customers.

The compelling event

One thing that vendors are on the look out for are specific, time based, reasons why a buyer needs to make a decision, rather than allow a situation to drift on and keep with the status quo. There might be a compliance aspect to this, such as a new law or regulation.

In the absence of external deadlines the vendor has to work hard to make their events ‘compelling’.

Event driven selling framework

Looking at your sales cycle as a sequence of events can help you create a blueprint, template or framework for marketing and sales.

It is a way to identify the ‘next step’ that you’d like the prospect to take, and your call-to-action.

Disconnect events from time

While there can be advantages to having a specific time in the diary, for a conference or a meeting, there are advantages of allowing the prospect to attend an event at a time of their own choosing. Making a recording of a live webinar, and making that recording available for people to watch subsequently, is one way to re-use content and create additional events.

The new connected world that has been created by the Internet and new systems and applications can increase returns and reduce the costs of live events.

More significantly, especially for smaller businesses, it creates massive new opportunities, by breaking the constraints of time and place. Running an ‘event’ for one prospect, at a time of their choosing, is now a realistic sales opportunity.

Event-driven selling provides a structure and focus for many marketing activities that otherwise might not be showing a clear return for cost and time.

Social Media Marketing, Content Marketing and Attraction Marketing are just some of the latest techniques that can make a significant contribution, when aligned with a structured, sales-focused plan.

However, an end-to-end approach is far more effective overall than individual, isolated, disconnected activities, no matter how attractive they may seem.

The Wurlwind event driven selling blueprint provides a framework, methodology, and roadmap to help founders, directors and managers of small and mid-sized businesses (SMEs) in Business to Business (B2B) to respond to market challenges by taking advantage of new opportunities in a joined-up and focused way.

It will help you to identify and take advantage of new selling techniques, new technologies and applications, sort out the substance from the froth, and build a stronger pipeline and sales infrastructure.